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Georgia: in security or on a time bomb?

Batumi downtown. Image: reports.travel.ru

In the geopolitical game that is being played on the chessboard of the Caucasus, Georgia knows its role quite well. While being hostile to Russia and amiable towards Armenia, it is a very close ally to both Turkey and Azerbaijan, two states that declare themselves to be one nation. In fact, the Turks have one more state – the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. And though having such an Azerbaijani-Turkish-Cypriot trinity, they deny other nations the right the two states have. But let us put Armenia and the Armenians aside for the moment.

As one clever book says - a word is also a deed. If one nation is divided into two states, its wish to reunite is logical and legal. The only question here is what to do with the states and the nations that make this reunion impossible due to mere geography.

The analysis of the history of the last millennia shows that the most common solution to this problem is war, which is not sure to cause reunion but is sure to cause bloodshed. Under Erdogan, for the first time since the end of WWI and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has renewed its imperial claims. So, we wonder what consequences this may have for the Georgians, who are sandwiched between Turkey in the west and Azerbaijan in the east – with both countries being much stronger economically.

During its nine-year rule, Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement did its best to please its allies. And the cover was struggle against Russia’s influence. Even today, that force flares up every time the ruling Georgian Dream attempts to restore economic ties with Russia.

But it is that very force that has caused Georgia’s 90% energy dependence on Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis have so much money in the Georgian economy that one gesture is enough for them to throw that country out of any economic project.

The best example is the last attempt to restore railway contacts between Armenia and Russia.

There still are lots of deep flows and pitfalls in Georgian-Turkish relations.

During WWI Stalin and Beria deported Meskhetian Turks from Georgia. This problem is still unsettled, so, it will not be a hard job for Turkey to blow up this time bomb if need be.

Another serious problem is Adjaria, a province that joined Georgia as a result of a deal between the Bolshevik Russia and Kemalist Turkey. Today, this is a mostly Muslim province, with Turkish economic dominance. And every kid knows that economic control is the first step towards political control.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), who enjoys a near-to-monopoly dominance on the Georgian market, is actively supporting Georgian citizens of Azerbaijani nationality.

As a result, the Azerbaijani community is growing much more quickly than any other ethnic group in Georgia is. Special attention is paid to Kvemo-Kartli, a province with mostly Azerbaijani population.

Here SOCAR is laying hundreds of kilometers of gas pipelines and has over 30,000 customers. All this may seem to be good but only if you close your eyes on growing separatism in that region. Local Azerbaijanis no longer want to be called a diaspora. They consider themselves aboriginals and want to restore the old name of their province, Borchalo.

SOCAR is also sponsoring Azerbaijanis wishing to study in Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Everybody remembers the scandal concerning Gulen’s schools. Were it not for the coup attempt in Turkey, nobody would become aware of the threats of those schools.

And who will be those youths after coming back to Georgia?

One can as well close his eyes on the fact that more and more Georgians are joining ISIL. At first, most of those people were Kists from Akhmet district (ethnic Chechens living in Georgia) but now among them you can see also people from Adjaria and other Georgian provinces.

Most of the Georgian leaders pretend not to see this and prefer to be silent.

To Georgia’s credit, it still has people who are not afraid of shouting out loud that the emperor has no clothes. One of them is the founder of the Alliance of Patriots David Tarkha-Mouravi. He dared to say something everybody knows but is keeping silence about.

If today Russia is regarded as an occupant in Georgia, it would be logical to give a similar status to Turkey, who occupied 33% of Georgia’s territory almost a century ago.

“Today too Turkey is doing its best to occupy Adjaria. Its former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made it clear on TV that Ozurgeti, Batumi and Akhltsikhe is Turkey and that they must restore their Ottoman Empire,” Tarkhan-Mouravi said.

If somebody sees no danger here, let him remember the late 1930s, when Turkey captured Syrian Alexandretta.

But some people in Georgia continue being deaf to Tarkhan-Mouravi’s warnings. During the last TV debates the anchor pretended not to hear him saying that he was ready to provide videos proving his words. The truth is not a welcome guest here.

Turkish Ambassador to Georgia Zeki Levent Gumrukcu denied all Tarkhan-Mouravi said. But he might as well deny the fact that the Moon shines in the night.

In politics some unions are natural, others are not. And for the latter you are often forced to pay a high price.

Irakli Chkheidze, specially for EADaily

Permalink: eadaily.com/en/news/2016/09/13/georgia-in-security-or-on-a-time-bomb
Published on September 13th, 2016 01:53 PM
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